Time & Use Changes A Lot
I made a lot of dress shoe purchases since I started dabbling into menswear and fashion 6 years ago.
While I received many of them as a Review Pair, more than often I offered to pay at least the manufacturing cost.
In many occasions I clearly communicated that it often is hard to judge a pair of shoes completely before you use it for a longer period.
I thought it would make for a fun quick article to talk about some of those purchases throughout my active years and reflect.
Where they as good, better or unfortunately really bad or fell short of expectations?
Let’s find out.
Only One Rule
I also think it would be appropriate to not discuss shoes that I promote and sell through The Noble Shoe.
In other words, Paolo Scafora and Carlos Santos are out of the question.
Having used them daily for years I can attest to their quality and longevity and have nothing to change.
However I might discuss one of my first Carlos Santos Purchases briefly that actually inspired me to launch the shop.
The rest is fair game and since I reviewed dozens of dress shoes I will pick some more notable ones.
This does not mean that the experience changed for the worse since it could also be the opposite!
For example I can already tell you that Septieme Largeur impressed me a lot and it just kept on growing.
1. Loake 1880 Aldwych & Chatsworth
These two were my first ever welted dress shoes and boots.
A significant purchase for me at the time at over $300 each.
Coming from shitty, cemented shoes this was groundbreaking at the time and it was clear in my Reviews.
Both were solid shoes but for my taste I consider them a bit overpriced right now.
The leather was nothing to rave about and especially in the Chatsworth there was a lot of loose grain.
I also complained about the fit a lot since it was supposed to be a wide (English G) width.
However a year later I realized I simply wore the wrong size of shoes and they were too tight.
The style is very contemporary and classic so it will be perfect for those kinds of people that want British style on a budget.
I would never recommend their Export Grade models as there are better shoes out there.
Personally I would never invest in Loake shoes ever again.
Still, they can be a solid buy for anyone just dipping their toes in the welted dress shoe world.
A second hand shoe I bought from a friend was a Meermin Balmoral Boot.
Probably due to the fact that I have an eye for detail and that I already had higher quality shoes I hated these.
Terrible leather, terrible fit, uneven, unbalanced and just felt god awful.
Meermin can be a bit of a gamble and their customer service and lack of ethics puts me off greatly.
I still recommend them to people that have an extremely strict budget.
Some love them, some swear by them but I would not touch them with a ten foot pole.
3. Septieme Largeur
I developed a friendship with the owner of Septieme Largeur who is genuinely an amazing guy.
I had two pairs of shoes over the years and one of them is still in my rotation.
The oxford is one I still use and still remains as beautiful as ever.
I mean just look at this one and compare it to the Loake for a pretty similar price.
Of course the patina is a personal choice but who is to stop you from buying this in regular dark brown calf?
I’ve been to the factory since I wanted to develop my own shoes there so I know the inside tricks and tips.
If they wanted to, they would be charging $500 for the same shoes just like another brand in the list does.
So for quality, value, aesthetics and durability I will always recommend them.
4. Cobbler Union
As a disclaimer, I never bought the Cobbler Union Chukkas I reviewed since it was a free pair.
The shoes were actually pretty nice quality overall and my opinion has not changed about them.
The initial fit was also great, but then after some wears became unbearably tight for some reason.
In the end, I had to unfortunately sell them less than 6 months later.
What bothered me the most however was that they ghosted me twice.
Still, more than decent shoes but I would say are appealing during sales.
One of my most worn shoes of all time is by Yeossal.
An absolutely smashing pair of shoes that got me through rain and snow and sun.
A testament to how good the suede was (and how good suede handles bad weather).
Excellent comfortable fit, customization potential and overall styling.
The weakest point was probably that the heel stack showed some slight cracking later.
Their prices went up again, but it’s still one amazing pair of shoes.
6. Antonio Meccariello
“Uncle” Antonio as I call him is an amazing shoemaker and person.
I had the chance to buy some of his shoes during a stock clearance from a Hong Kong based company and it was a steal.
Superb shoes, slightly hard to fit and always garnered looks.
They aged well, the construction was super solid and they went on for years before I sold them.
If you look past his horrific website, it’s one of the best shoemakers out there.
Just try his handwelted entry level Roma line and you will understand.
7. Stefano Bemer
A tougher one to discuss since there are mixed feelings about them.
The shoes themselves are amazing and one of the best RTW fits I have ever had.
Super construction, comfortable, stylish, beautiful shoes and the leather aged very well (albeit cannot take a shine so well).
On the other hand, they are much more expensive than competitors and it’s hard to justify.
I obviously loved them enough to go study shoemaking there but that’s a topic for another day.
Still one of my prized possessions and best shoes I will ever have.
If budget is not an issue it is definitely one of the best ones you can buy.
8. ACme Shoemaker & Yearn SHoemaker
A smashing pair of shoes when it comes to construction and durability.
Some things I noticed with time however was that the leather quality on my pair left a lot to be desired.
The fit ended up extremely difficult as well with a low instep.
I don’t think I could wear them if it they were lace up oxfords for example.
Unbearable fit suddenly after some wears and some leather issues at similar points.
It is much more forgiving when it comes to Yearn because of the price difference.
I will not, not recommend them both as they are very solid shoes.
However I will warn you that it might be a challenge to fit especially if you have wider feet or a higher instep.
9. Vass Budapest
Not much to say here.
Seriously impressive shoes and great quality for the price.
Still looking as good as ever and wear even better.
I cannot recommend them enough.
10. Edward Green
I would like to end this list with Edward Green and my controversial article that I should’ve updated.
Back in 2021 or so, I bought a pair of Edward Green Shoes from a shop that assured me they were firsts.
The shoes had low quality leather, misaligned broguing and it was a joke for a full retail of approximately $1400-1500.
I decided to dig further and despite my scathing article, Edward Green responded beautifully and helped me track down the shoes.
Turns out they were factory seconds with obvious defects.
The fit was good and the shoes as well overall, however there was something missing.
They were too serious for me, so maybe that’s exactly what you will enjoy.
Nonetheless, with Brexit and inflation hitting everyone I find it hard to recommend fully machine made shoes at those price points.
But I still felt they deserved some kind of redemption and to highlight their positive sides.
If you want British Classic, good quality and the handmade aspect doesn’t interest you then I can recommend them.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Santos Double Monks
The Carlos Santos 6942 Double Monks in Wine Shadow Patina.
I kept them for 3-4 years and they just kept getting better with age.
The patina developed, they were comfy, held up really well and the emotional connection I had with them was immense.
It influenced my life so much, that I quit my job in order to sell Carlos Santos in The Noble Shoe.
It shaped my life and my career and I still have many Carlos Santos as my daily drivers.
These are obviously not all the dress shoe purchases I made during these 6 years.
But they were the top 10 that sprung into my mind immediately.
Some changed for the best while others had a full 180 or made me more cautious.
I still feel happy with my overall judgement at the time though.
In hindsight, I also see how my taste evolved over the time as well as the passion when speaking about them.
Even in the case of Loake, I thank them because they sparked my interest in shoes.
I am curious about what my future holds in the world of shoes.
In the meantime, thank you for reading this nonsense I always write!
Thank you for reading,